Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 26, 2018

South Korea and the U.S. agree to ease tariffs on cars and steel, Uber plans to sell its Southeast Asia business to Grab, and more


South Korea and U.S. strike tariff deal on cars, steel

South Korea and the U.S. made progress toward renegotiating their six-year-old free trade pact, with Seoul agreeing to further open its auto market to U.S. imports and Washington agreeing to exempt South Korea from increased steel tariffs, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said Monday. The minister said the U.S. will move up the scheduled end of tariffs on South Korean-made pickup trucks to 2021, instead of 2041. Despite an exemption from President Trump's new steel tariff, South Korea will be limited by a steel quota. Seoul will let U.S. automakers export 25,000 more vehicles to South Korea per year without having to comply with domestic safety and emission standards.


Uber to sell Southeast Asia business to Grab

Uber said Sunday it would sell its Southeast Asia ride and food delivery business to regional rival Grab in its latest retreat from a challenging overseas market. The fast-growing Grab said Monday that Uber will get 27.5 percent stake in the company and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will get a seat on its board. Uber has already sold its China business to local rival Didi Chuxing in exchange for a stake in that company, and merged its Russia operations with search-engine leader Yandex, which has a popular taxi-booking app. Uber's full-year net loss increased to $4.5 billion in 2017 and Khosrowshahi is struggling to make the company profitable ahead of an initial public offering of stock expected next year.


Polls show Americans, Germans lack trust in Facebook

Polls released Sunday in the U.S. and Germany found that most respondents were losing trust in Facebook's protection of users' privacy. Fewer than half of Americans surveyed in a Reuters/Ipsos poll said they trusted Facebook to respect U.S. privacy laws. Sixty percent of Germans questioned by Bild am Sonntag, Germany's largest-selling Sunday paper, said they worried that social networks, including Facebook, were having a negative impact on democracy. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized in advertisements placed in major newspapers for "a breach of trust" and promised that the company would work to protect the privacy of its users. Facebook faced fresh questions after the website Ars Technica reported that some users had found that Facebook collected years of contact names, phone numbers, and text messages.


U.S. stocks struggle to rebound from worst week in more than 2 years

U.S. stock futures jumped early Monday after reports that the U.S. and China were talking behind the scenes to avert a trade war. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq-100 futures were all up by roughly 1 percent after their worst week in more than two years. The declines came as investors expressed concerns about President Trump's proposal to impose tariffs on $60 billion worth of imports from China as punishment for a Chinese policy requiring U.S. companies to give local partners technology secrets in exchange for access to the market. China responded with threats to impose duties on U.S. goods. Fears over the trade tensions dragged down Asian stocks on Monday. Japan's Nikkei index dropped by 0.9 percent, while Australian shares lost 0.5 percent and MSCI's broadest Asia-Pacific index fell by 0.1 percent.


Remington files for bankruptcy protection

Remington Outdoor Co., the nation's oldest gun manufacturer, said late Sunday that it had filed for bankruptcy protection. The 202-year-old gun maker saw a sharp drop in sales after the 2016 presidential election, as customers interpreted President Trump's victory as a sign that gun sales would not be restricted so there was no need to stockpile firearms. Remington's sales fell by more than 30 percent in 2017 to just over $600 million. The company announced the bankruptcy plans in February. Remington's owner, private equity giant Cerberus, bought up gun companies a decade ago but said it would exit the industry after the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, in which one of its rifles was used.


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